Almost 9 years ago, when the Godfather and I were first married and living on our own, I decided to try and make the Godfather a Cuban meal to help with the homesickness we both felt leaving the familiar comfort of South Florida behind for the first time in either of our lives. One problem though, I had no clue how to make black beans and it would have been entirely unacceptable to just heat up a can of beans and call it good.
The Godfather called his mother and asked her how to make black beans. He wrote the recipe down on a little square of paper with yellow and red flowers. That little piece of paper, my mother-in-law’s recipe for black beans, has traveled across the country with us twice. It took me years to get it just right, mostly because I wasn’t ever very patient while the beans were cooking and usually pulled them off too early. So please have patience with this dish, it’s worth it.
Traditionally, black beans are either served on top of white rice as a substantial side dish, or as a soup. If you’d like to serve it as a soup you may feel the need to add a little more broth or water, but I never felt I had to because we like the soup on the thicker side. Just be sure to let the beans cook long enough that some split open and add a nice creaminess to to broth.
I hope you enjoy this recipe from our family to yours! <3
- 8 oz dry black beans
- 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 large sweet onion, finely diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1.5 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp vinegar (red wine, apple cider, or white all work)
- 1½ tsp salt, divided (plus more to taste)
- 1 dry bay leaf
- ¼ tsp cumin
- water or broth
- Two hours before cooking, preferably the night before, place the beans in a bowl and cover with water to soak (see note).
- When you are ready to cook, drain the beans, place them in a pot with new water (you may also use broth) and cover the beans by 1 inch. Add the vinegar, and bay leaf. Turn the heat to medium high to bring the water to a boil.
- While the water is coming to a boil, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute the garlic, onions and bell peppers with ½ tsp salt until the onions are soft and slightly translucent. Pour all of the sofrito into the pot with the beans, which should have come to a boil by now.
- Cover the beans, reduce the heat to medium/medium-low, enough to maintain a simmer, and cook 30-40 minutes until the beans are soft and cooked through. Stir occasionally, add more water if necessary.
- When the beans are soft, add the cumin and adjust salt to taste. Remove the bay leaf before serving.